Healthcare Social Workers

Provide individuals, families, and groups with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses. Services include advising family caregivers. Provide patients with information and counseling, and make referrals for other services. May also provide case and care management or interventions designed to promote health, prevent disease, and address barriers to access to healthcare.

Sample of reported job titles: Clinical Social Worker, Hospice Social Worker, LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker), Medical Social Worker, Nephrology Social Worker, Oncology Social Worker, Psychosocial Coordinator, Renal Social Worker, Social Work Case Manager, Social Worker

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Educate clients about end-of-life symptoms and options to assist them in making informed decisions.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, housing, job placement or education.
  • Utilize consultation data and social work experience to plan and coordinate client or patient care and rehabilitation, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress according to measurable goals described in treatment and care plan.
  • Identify environmental impediments to client or patient progress through interviews and review of patient records.
  • Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life.
  • Plan discharge from care facility to home or other care facility.
  • Organize support groups or counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or patient.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Supervise and direct other workers providing services to clients or patients.
  • Plan and conduct programs to combat social problems, prevent substance abuse, or improve community health and counseling services.
  • Develop or advise on social policy and assist in community development.
  • Conduct social research to advance knowledge in the social work field.
  • Investigate child abuse or neglect cases and take authorized protective action when necessary.
  • Oversee Medicaid- and Medicare-related paperwork and recordkeeping in hospitals.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
Education
Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
Related Experience
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
Job Training
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.
SVP Range
Over 4 years of preparation (8.0 and above)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.

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Knowledge

  • Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Philosophy and Theology — Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 70%
     
    responded: Master’s degree requiredmore info
  • 15%
     
    responded: Bachelor’s degree required
  • 11%
     
    responded: Post-master’s certificate required

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.

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Interests

Interest code: SI
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

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Work Values

  • Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

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Work Styles

  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$29.25 hourly, $60,840 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
184,900 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Faster than average (10% to 15%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
20,400
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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